Preview: 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art

by Soojin ChangPosted on

Bjarne Melgaard’s funhouse installation.

This Friday, March 7, the Whitney Museum of American Art will open their 77th Biennial for its final time at the Marcel Breuer building in the Upper East Side before moving to its new downtown location. For the 2014 exhibition, the Whitney invited three curators from outside the museum — Stuart Comer (Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art at MoMA), Anthony Elms (Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia), and Michelle Grabner (artist and Professor in the Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago) — to explore the loaded question: What is contemporary art in the United States now?

This year’s Biennial includes 103 artist participants, whose works collectively span virtually everything from video installations to carved pencils to a trapezoidal window overlooking Madison Avenue, with each floor organized by one of the three curators. Identity — of the artist, of the globalized and multi-gendered contemporary American, of the institution, etc. — was a major subject that was sampled and provoked throughout the show. Richly textured and thematically dense, the schizophrenic assemblage of “American Art” would not have been nearly as distressing without Charlemagne Palestine’s sound installation in the stairwells, which played out of speakers adorned with every type of wide-eyed stuffed animal that has ever graced a county fair.

Performances, screenings, and talks will occur until the end of the show, which runs through May 25. The artist line-up includes: Terry Adkins, Alma Allen, Uri Aran, Michel Auder, Kevin Beasley, Gretchen Bender, Sarah Charlesworth, Zackary Drucker, Jimmie Durham, Louise Fishman, Tony Greene, David Hammons, Jonn Herschend, Sheila Hicks, Channa Horwitz, Gary Indiana, Sherrie Levine, Ken Okiishi, Sterling Ruby, Semiotext(e), Amy Sillman, A.L. Steiner, Triple Canopy, David Foster Wallace, among many others.

Carol Jackson, BLEHH, 2012. Leather, enamel, brass, and acrylic.

Miljohn Ruperto. Janus, 2014. Animated by Aimée de Jongh

Three-person hats by Ei Arakawa

Gretchen Bender. People in Pain, 1988. Paint on heat-set vinyl and neon. Remade by Phillip Vanderhyden, 2014.


Keith Mayerson’s salon-style non-linear narrative My American Dream, 2014

Sheila Hicks. Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013–14. Acrylic, linen, cotton, bamboo, and silk.

Joel Otterson, Camp, 2014. Cotton and polyester lace, silk, redwood, aromatic cedar, and bamboo.

Peter Schuyff’s Sans Papier, 2004–14, carved pencils and sticks

A.L. Steiner. More Real than Reality Itself, 2014. Multichannel video installation, color, sound; 54 min.

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